Handling Grief at Christmas
Okay, so this may be a fairly sensitive subject, but for me, and others I know it is a timely matter.
We lost my brother in law four years ago in November. He was only thirty-six and it still seems like yesterday. This year our Uncle, who travels everywhere is dying of lung cancer, and if we can get him through Christmas, we’ll be lucky.
Very dear friends of ours lost their nine year old son, ten years ago at the beginning of December. A loss like that never goes away.
So when I was reading an article about dealing with grief during the holiday season, I thought some of the suggestions, plus my own, might help some of you get through Christmas a little easier. This is not to say that these suggestions will work for everyone. We all deal with grief in different ways, these are just some helpful hints I’ve learned from my years of being a nurse and caregiver.
First off, if this is your first Christmas without your loved one, allow yourself time to grieve. Some people believe if they keep themselves busy enough, they can out run the inevitable. But, there is no escaping it. In the book Death and Dying, a required read for all health care professionals, bereavement expert Edwin Schneidman says ” The deep capacity to weep for the loss of a loved one and to continue to treasure the memory of that loss is one of our noblest human traits.”
Second. Accept comfort from friends and family. Read their cards, listen to their words. Most likely they are feeling a profound loss as well. I went to the funeral of a friend of ours this past summer. He was only fifty and died in a freak accident. I kid you not, we stood in line at the funeral home for three hours before we actually got into the building. At the end of the receiving line stood Matt’s widow, heels long gone, make up washed away and hair a mess, but she stood their and hugged each person with all the strength she had left. I told my husband I didn’t think I could be strong enough to do that, and he said, “You get your strength from family and friends in times like these.”
Third. Take care of your physical health. This is no time to let yourself get worn down. Exercise regularly, don’t over do, take regular walks, listen to your favorite music, read your favorite book. And, number one in my opinion is to laugh. Don’t feel guilty if you are attending a holiday party and you catch yourself laughing. It’s okay.
Fifth. Honor your loved one at Christmas whether it’s done with a toast at dinneror through a donation to his or her favorite charity in their name -even something as simple as getting one of those little tree’s already decorated for the table in his or her memory. Just talking about favorite memories, playing your loved one’s favorite music with family around or making their favorite dish can help. The saying is gone, but not forgotten. I think you’ll find once you start talking about all your loved ones little quirks, the table will be all smiles and laughs in no time.
Finally, don’t forget the ones left behind. Tell your children, parents, your entire family, how much they are loved and cherished, not just on Christmas, but everyday of the year. Leave no room for regrets.